7/13/2011 Banquet of the gods, Book IV, on Persian and Celtic scriptures and gods,
relating to an Indo-European rite portrayed on the walls of Etruscan tombs.
Part of a work relating to Etruscan Phrases.
Banquet of the Gods
by Mel Copeland
Book IV, Persians & Celts
The Avesta, also called the Zend-avesta, is the sacred book of a religion called Zoroastrianism. The religion was founded by a priest, Zoroaster who shaped from earlier foundations involving 33 gods, as in the Rig Veda, a new monotheistic faith based upon a Dualism. According to the Encylcopaedia Britannica, Zoroastrian tradition maintains that its teacher, Zoroaster, flourished 258 years before Alexander the Great conquered Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenids, a dynasty that ruled Persia from 559 to 330 BC, in 330 BC.
"Following this dating, Zoroaster converted Vishtaspa, most likely a king of Chorasmia (an area south of the Aral Sea in Central Asia), in 588 BC. According to tradition, he was 40 years old when this event occurred, thus indicating that his birthdate was 628 B,C. Zoroaster was born into a modestly situated family of knights, the Spitama, probably at Rhages (now Rayy, a suburb of Tehr?n), a town in Media. The area in which he lived was not yet urban, its economy being based on animal husbandry and pastoral occupations. Nomads, who frequently raided those engaged in such occupations, were viewed by Zoroaster as aggressive violators of order, and he called them followers of the Lie.
"According to the sources, Zoroaster probably was a priest. Having received a vision from Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, who appointed him to preach the truth, Zoroaster apparently was opposed in his teachings by the civil and religious authorities in the area in which he preached. It is not clear whether these authorities were from his native region or from Chorasmia prior to the conversion of Vishtaspa. Confident in the truth revealed to him by Ahura Mazda, Zoroaster apparently did not try to overthrow belief in the older Iranian religion, which was polytheistic; he did, however, place Ahura Mazda at the centre of a kingdom of justice that promised immortality and bliss. Though he attempted to reform ancient Iranian religion on the basis of the existing social and economic values, Zoroaster's teachings at first aroused opposition from those whom he called the followers of the Lie (dregvant ).
"Zoroaster's teachings, as noted above, centred on Ahura Mazda, who is the highest god and alone is worthy of worship. He is, according to the Gathas, the creator of heaven and earth; i.e., of the material and the spiritual world. He is the source of the alternation of light and darkness, the sovereign lawgiver, and the very centre of nature, as well as the originator of the moral order and judge of the entire world. The kind of polytheism found in the Indian Vedas (Hindu scriptures having the same religious background as the Gathas) is totally absent; the Gathas, for example, mention no female deity sharing Ahura Mazda's rule. He is surrounded by six or seven beings, or entities, which the later Avesta calls amesha spentas, 'beneficent immortals.' The names of the amesha spentas frequently recur throughout the Gathas and may be said to characterize Zoroaster's thought and his concept of god. In the words of the Gathas, Ahura Mazda is the father of Spenta Mainyu (Holy Spirit), of Asha Vahishta (Justice, Truth), of Vohu Manah (Righteous Thinking), and of Armaiti (Spenta Armaiti, Devotion). The other three beings (entities) of this group are said to personify qualities attributed to Ahura Mazda: they are Khshathra Vairya (Desirable Dominion), Haurvatat (Wholeness), and Ameretat (Immortality). This does not exclude the possibility that they, too, are creatures of Ahura Mazda. The good qualities represented by these beings are also to be earned and possessed by Ahura Mazda's followers. This means that the gods and mankind are both bound to observe the same ethical principles. If the amesha spentas show the working of the deity, while at the same time constituting the order binding the adherents of the Wise Lord, then the world of Ahura Mazd? and the world of his followers (the ashavan ) come close to each other. The very significant eschatological aspect of Zoroastrianism is well demonstrated by the concept of Khshathra (Dominion), which is repeatedly accompanied by the adjective Desirable; it is a kingdom yet to come. (1)
A treaty concluded about 1380 B.C. between the Hittite emperor and the king of the Mitanni, invokes a list of gods that recalls those addressed in the Rig Veda, namely: Mitra and Varuna, Indra and the two Nasatyas (2). Of these gods, only Mitra (Mithra) is invoked in the Avesta, "except that Indra and Nanhaithya appear in the Avesta as demons." Varuna may have survived under another name. Important changes, then, must have taken place on the Iranian side, not all of which can be attributed to the prophet.
"The Indo-Iranians appear to have distinguished, from among their gods, the daiva (Indo-Iranian and Old Persian equivalent of Avestan daeva and Sanskrit deva, related to the Latin deus), meaning 'heavenly,' and the asura , a special class with occult powers. This situation was reflected in Vedic India; later on, asura came to signify, in Sanskrit, a kind of demon, because of the baleful aspect of the asura's invisible power. In Iran the evolution must have been different: the ahuras were extolled, to the exclusion of the daevas, who were reduced to the rank of demons."
Principal Iranian Deities:
Beside Ahura Mazda, Mithra is the most important deity of the ancient Iranian pantheon and may have even occupied a position of near equality with him. In the Achaemenian inscriptions Mithra, together with Anahita, is the only other deity specifically mentioned. Although the ancient pantheon contained an individual sun god, Hvar Khshaita, in the eastern Iranian traditions reflected in the Avesta, Mithra has a hint of connection with the sun, more specifically with the first rays of dawn as he drives forth in his chariot. In western Iran the identification was complete, and the name Mithra became a common word for 'sun.' In spite of his connection with the sun, Mithra functioned preeminently in the ethical sphere. The word mithra was a common noun that meant 'covenant, contract, treaty' and, as such, Mithra was the god Covenant, the celestial deity who oversaw all solemn agreements that people made among themselves and who severely punished anyone who broke the terms of a covenant, whether it was between individuals or between countries or other sociopolitical entities. In his capacity to find out the covenant breaker, he is described as sleepless, ever-waking, having 1,000 ears, 10,000 eyes, and a wide outlook. He is portrayed as a great warrior brandishing his mace while driving in his chariot to battle, where he intervenes on behalf of those faithful to treaties by throwing the treaty-breakers (mithra-drug) into panic and defeat. As a sovereign deity, Mithra bore the standing epithet varu-gavyuti, meaning 'one who (presides over) wide pasture lands' — i.e., one who keeps under his protection (another of his epithets was payu, 'protector') the territories of those who worship him and abide by their covenants. It should be mentioned that Mithra gave his name to a mystery religion, Mithraism, which was popular throughout the Roman Empire, but whose Iranian origins are difficult to trace.
One of the longest Avestan Yashts is to the powerful goddess whose full name is given as Ardvi Sura Anahita, literally Òthe damp, strong, untainted.Ó In fact, the long name seems to combine two originally separate names and, hence, two deities. First, Ardvi Sura is the Iranian name of the heavenly river goddess who in the Rig Veda is called Sarasvati. In this role, she brings fresh water to the earth, filling streams, rivers, and seas as she flows from Mount Hukarya to the Varu-Karta sea. Second, Anahiti is a separate goddess of uncertain origin whose cult seems to have been popular originally in northeastern Iran. The name probably meant Òuntaintedness, purity (both moral and physical).Ó It is interesting that the Greek Anaitis preserves the Old Iranian form of the name, while Anahit(a), of the Avestan and Old Persian, shows a more recent linguistic form. Unlike any other Iranian deity, she is described in great detail in the Yashts, especially in respect to her clothing and ornamentation, to such an extent that one assumes a dressed cult image must be the source of the description. This is confirmed by the fact that Artaxerxes II mentions her. Then, too, the Babylonian historian Berosus reports that this king had many images of her made and distributed. Since the Iranians did not traditionally make images, it may be assumed that Anahiti's cult borrowed heavily from Mesopotamian models. The Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar probably provided the clearest model, though the details of Anahiti's dress, her beaver coat, for example—show significant differences. There were other striking similarities: Ishtar was the goddess of war and patroness of the palace, while the greater part of Anahiti's Yasht is devoted to her martial traits and her patronage of Iranian heroes and legendary rulers (in post-Achaemenian Iran Anahiti was intimately connected with kingship and the shah). In addition, both goddesses were important for fertility. (1)
Dr. Oric Basirov, in a paper posted on the CAIS website (Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental & African Studies [SOAS], University of London), provides a more comprehensive examination and discussion of Zoroaster and the religion he founded. Basirov suggests in fact that Zoroaster may have come from the steppes of Kazakhstan (this also sheds more light on the origin and differentiation of the Indo-European languages).
Says Dr. Basirov: (http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/Religions/iranian/Zarathushtrian/zoroaster_time_and_place.htm):
"Any reliable information about the time and the provenance of the prophet is based principally on his own words which make up parts of the Avesta, and on some data produced by Russian archaeologists. The available evidence, however, would only define an approximate time and space within which Zoroaster is likely to have lived and preached. His holy words, the Gathas, as well as the rest of the Avesta belong to one of the Old Eastern Iranian languages. These languages are thousands of years in antiquity and much older than the oldest known Western Iranian language, the Old Persian, that is to say the language of the Achaemenians. Moreover, these two branches of the Iranian languages are so different in character, as to be mutually incomprehensible [English/German]. Old Eastern Iranian languages were spoken by proto-Iranian peoples who lived in a vast area from the Ural Mountains and modern Afghanistan to the heart of Siberia and western China (western Cimmerians, Sarmatians, Scythians (Saka), Massagetae, and Alans]. We have, therefore, thousands of years as well as thousands of miles within which to search for the time and the homeland of the great Iranian prophet.
It is difficult to date the Gathic Avestan; on the other hand it closely resembles the Rigveda, which is fairly generally accepted to have begun to take shape about 1800 BC
The Gathic texts, moreover, describe a pastoral society which seems to correspond with the evidence produced by Soviet archaeologists from the northeastern parts of Central Asia. Some personal names, such as Hvogva, Vishtaspa, and Zarathushtra denote settled agrarian people owning domesticated cows, horses and camels. We know these animals were long domesticated in Central Asia. The Avesta also talks about chariots and chariot races. The earliest known such vehicle is attested in the steppes around 1600 BC It is also known that chariots encouraged nomadism in that part of the world leading to a reduction in the number of cows and to a corresponding increase in the number of horses.
It is reasonable to assume that the great Indo-Iranian migration to the south was encouraged by the increasing use of chariots, and that prior to this event, the Zoroastrian "Airyana Vaejah" was a settled agricultural community as described in the Avesta. The area of the Central Asia which closely resembles this Iranian Holy Land is located in northeastern part of modern Kazakhstan, a land full of rivers, lakes and pastures. Here, Soviet archaeologists have unearthed a material culture known as Andronovo, which is not that different from the description of the "Airyana Vaijah". It seems that the "Airyas" of the Gathas lived a peaceful agricultural life in this land, where Zoroaster was born and first preached (It is difficult to form a new faith while in move; a great deal of stability is required to form a new religion. The formation of Zoroastrianism must therefore have taken place during a period of at least 100 years of peace). It is also conceivable that during his lifetime the chariot-riding "pasture-destroyers" and "cattle- raiders" first appeared and dramatically changed the face of the steppes; these two terms are often used in the Avesta. These events probably led to the southward migration of some Iranians, who later became the ancestors of the historical Medes and Achaemenians.
The Avesta addresses 33 gods. The most important of them includes the god of Fire and the Persian version of Soma called Hoama. We quote the Avesta from http://www.avesta.org where the Avesta can be read in its entirety: The following, taken from http://www.xs4all.nl/~sufilab/index.html, summarizes what you are about to see from the Avesta:
"The way of worship taught by Zarathustra is to worship God by offering homage to nature.
For nature suggests to the soul the endless and unlimited Being hidden behind it all.
They keep a constantly burning fire in their place of worship,
But they keep it before them when thinking of God,
For fire purifies all things and the light within purifies all souls".
Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Unity of Religious Ideals
The homage to nature theme is — as we have seen — a principal theme of the Rig Veda and also reflected in the Horned God, Lord of Animals that we have seen in Indra/Shiva, the Celtic god, Cernunnos, and the like Horned God on the Indus Valley seals. Fire is the messenger of the Gods and the great purifier and the only self-created god in the Rig Veda. Fire as a source of purification is also a paramount theme of the Bible. But in the final analysis both water and fire share the role of purification in the Rig Veda, Indo-European rites, as well as Mesopotamian and Biblical sources. In the Bible, for instance, God tells Noah after the flood that he will no longer punish by water; and through the prophets he repeatedly points out that his final purge of "wickedness" will be through fire. The last prophet of the Bible, Malachi, addresses the consumption of the world by fire, which was addressed in the Book of Daniel; and the Book of Revelation repeats those foundations. The foundation of the Bible, called the Law of Moses, which contained five books, addresses the nature of self-purification through the "Nazarite," who is a person (male or female) that leaves the community to live in the solitude of the desert completely dependent upon God. During the period of isolation the Nazarite is restricted in what can be eaten and not allowed to cut his or her hair or bathe. Purification of the Nazarite is done by fire and water.
The priests of the Rig Veda refer to the "Law." The context is as one sees in the Bible invocations of the "Law." The first purveyor of the law to the Aryans of India was Manu; in like manner Moses was the first purveyor of the law to the Hebrew, Christian and Moslem tradition. But a new law-giver is honored in Christianity, who is the Messiah called Jesus the Christ (messiah). The Koran of the Moslem religion likewise honors its new law-giver, Mohammed. In like manner is Zoroaster honored, as the new law-giver to the Iranians. Like the Bible the Zoroasterian religion is messianic and monotheistic. Like the Koran, which Mohammed describes in that book in terms of an "umbrella" religion, embracing Christianity Judaism, Zoroaster's faith embraced those that preceded it. Thus we can see not only the Aryan precepts familiar from the Rig Veda but also precepts that are controversial to Biblical scholars, since there are indications suggesting that the Zoroastrian religion may have influenced the Bible. One can also make an argument that the worship of Amon in Egypt influenced the development of the Law of Moses (Moses having been part of the Jews in Egypt in the captivity). Finally, the precepts of the Avesta, particularly those having to do with purification by water and the role of fire, serves as a prelude to understanding Celtic rites.
Selected Scriptures of the Avesta: (3)
YASNA 0 - Introduction
(In the name of God)
1. Ashem Vohu (1 & 3).
I profess myself a Mazda-worshipper and a Zoroastrian, opposing the Daevas, accepting the Ahuric doctrine. For Hawan....
2. To Fire, the son of Ahura Mazda. To you, O Fire, son of Ahura Mazda. With propitiation, for worship, adoration, propitiation, and praise.
3. 'Yatha Ahu Vairyo', the zaotar should say to me
'Atha ratush ashatchit hacha', the knowing Ashavan should say.
Ashem Vohu ....
4. I praise good thoughts, good words, and good deeds and those that are to be thought, spoken, and done. I do accept all good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. I do renounce all evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds.
5. I proffer to you, O Amesha Spentas, sacrifice and prayer, with thought, with word, with deed, with [my] being, with the very life of my body.
6. I praise Asha.
Ashem Vohu .
10. I announce (and) carry out (this Yasna) for all those who are the thirty three masters of Asha, which, coming the nearest, are around about Hawan, and which (as in their festivals) were instituted by Ahura Mazda, and were promulgated by Zarathushtra, as the masters of Asha Vahishta.
11. I announce (and) carry out (this Yasna) for the two, for Ahura and Mithra, the lofty, and the everlasting, and the Asha-sanctified, and for all the stars which are Spenta Mainyu's creatures, and for the star Tishtrya, the resplendent and glorious, and for the Moon which contains the seed of the Kine, and for the resplendent Sun, the swift-horsed, the eye of Ahura Mazda, and for Mithra the province ruler. And I celebrate and carry out this Yasna for Ahura Mazda (once again, and as to him who rules the month), the radiant, the glorious, and for the Fravashis of the saints.
12. I announce (and) carry out (this Yasna) for you, O Fire, son of Ahura Mazda, together with all the fires, and for the good waters, even for all the waters made by Mazda, and for all the plants which Mazda made.
12. With this libation and Baresman I desire for this Yasna you, the Asha-sanctified Atar, the Son of Ahura Mazda, the master of Asha, with all Fires. With this libation and Baresman I desire for this Yasna the good, best, Mazda-made, Asha-sanctified Water. I desire for this Yasna all the Mazda-made Asha-sanctified Waters. I desire for this Yasna all the Mazda-made, Asha-sanctified Plants.
2. And I desire to approach Haoma and Para-haoma with my praise for the propitiation of the Fravashi of Spitama Zarathushtra, the saint. And I desire to approach the (sacred) wood with my praise, with the perfume, for the propitiation of thee, the Fire, O Ahura Mazda's son!
3. And I desire to approach the Haomas with my praise for the propitiation of the good waters which Mazda created; and I desire to approach the Haoma-water, and the fresh milk with my praise, and the plant Hadhanaepata, offered with sanctity for the propitiation of the waters which are Mazda-made.9. And I desire to approach Ushahina, Berejya, and Nmanya with the Yasht of Sraosha (Obedience) the sacred, the holy, who smites with the blow of victory, and makes the settlements advance, and with that of Rashnu, the most just, and Arshtat who furthers the settlements, and causes them to increase.
10. And I desire to approach the monthly festivals, the lords of the ritual order, and the new moon and the waning moon, and the full moon which scatters night,
11. And the yearly festivals, Maidhyo-zaremaya, Maidhyo-shema, Paitishahya, and Ayathrima the breeder who spends the strength of males, and Maidhyairya, and Hamaspathmaedhaya, and the seasons, lords of the ritual order,
(12) and all those lords who are the three and thirty, who approach the nearest at the time of Havani, who are the Lords of Asha called Vahishta (and whose services were) inculcated by Mazda, and pronounced by Zarathushtra, as the feasts of Righteousness, the Best.
8. And we present these hereby to the Day-lords of the ritual order, to Havani, to Savanghi, and to Visya, the holy lords of the ritual order, for sacrifice, homage, propitiation, and for praise, and to Mithra of the wide pastures, and the thousand ears, and the myriad eyes, the Yazad of the spoken name,
9. And to Rapithwina, Fradat-fshu, and Zantuma, the holy lords of the ritual order, and to Righteousness the Best, and to Ahura Mazda's Fire,
10. And to Uzayeirina, Fradat-vira, and Dahvyuma, the holy lords of the ritual order, and to that lofty lord Napat-apam, and to the water Mazda-made,
11. And to Aiwisruthrima, the life-furtherer, and to Fradat-vispam-hujyaiti and Zarathushtrotema, the holy lords of the ritual order, and to the Fravashis of the saints, and to the women who bring forth many sons, and to the Prosperous home-life which endures without reverse throughout the year, and to Force, well-shaped and stately, and to the Blow of victory which Mazda gives, and to the Victorious Ascendency which it secures, for their sacrifice, homage, their propitiation, and their praise,
2. And I offer the Haoma and Haoma-juice with a complete and sacred offering for the propitiation of the Fravashi of Zarathushtra Spitama the saint, and I offer the wood-billets with the perfume for Thy propitiation, the Fire's, O Ahura Mazda's son!
3. And I offer the Haomas with a complete and sacred offering for propitiation [to the good waters] for the good waters Mazda-made. And I offer this Haoma-water with scrupulous exactness and with sanctity, and this fresh milk, and the plant Hadhanaepata uplifted with a complete and sacred offering for the propitiation of the waters which are Mazda-made.
13. And I offer with a complete and sacred offering to Ahura and Mithra, the lofty and imperishable, and holy two, and to the stars which are the creatures of Spenta Mainyu, and to the star Tishtrya, the radiant, the glorious, and to the Moon which contains the seed of cattle in its beams, and to the resplendent Sun of the fleet horses, the eye of Ahura Mazda, and to Mithra, the lord of the provinces. And I offer with a complete and sacred offering to Ahura Mazda, the resplendent, the glorious, (who rules this day), and to the Fravashis of the saints (who name the month).
1. At the hour of Havani, Haoma came to Zarathushtra, as he served the (sacred) Fire, and sanctified (its flame), while he sang aloud the Gathas. And Zarathushtra asked him: Who art thou, O honorable one! who art of all the incarnate world the most beautiful in Thine own body of those whom I have, seen, (thou) glorious [immortal]?
2. Thereupon gave Haoma answer, the holy one who driveth death afar: I am, O Zarathushtra Haoma, the holy and driving death afar; pray to me, O Spitama, prepare me for the taste. Praise me so that also the other Saoshyants [benefactors] may praise me.
3. Thereupon spake Zarathushtra: Unto Haoma be the praise. What man, O Haoma! first prepared thee for the corporeal world? What award was offered him? what gain did he acquire?
4. Thereupon did Haoma answer me, he the holy one, and driving death afar: Vivanghvant was the first of men who prepared me for the incarnate world. This award was offered him; this gain did he acquire, that to him was born a son who was Yima, called the brilliant, (he of the many flocks, the most glorious of those yet born, the sunlike-one of men), that he made from his authority both herds and people free from dying, both plants and waters free from drought, and men could eat inexhaustible food.
5. In the reign of brave Yima was there neither cold nor heat, there was neither age nor death, nor envy demon-made. Like teenagers7 walked the two forth, son and father, in their stature and their form, so long as Yima, son of Vivanghvant ruled, he of the many herds!
12. Who was the fourth man who prepared thee, O Haoma! for the corporeal world? What blessedness was given him? what gain did he acquire?
13. Thereupon gave Haoma answer, he the holy, and driving death afar: Pourushaspa was the fourth man who prepared me for the corporeal world. This blessedness was given him, this gain did he acquire, that thou, O Zarathushtra! wast born to him, the just, in Pourushaspa's house, the Daeva's foe, the friend of Mazda's lore,
(14) famed in Airyana Vaejah; and thou, O Zarathushtra! didst recite the first the Ahuna-vairya, four times intoning it, and with verses kept apart [(Pazand) each time with louder and still louder voice].
15. And thou didst cause, O Zarathushtra! all the demon-gods to vanish in the ground who aforetime flew about this earth in human shape (and power. This hast thou done), thou who hast been the strongest, and the staunchest, the most active, and the swiftest, and (in every deed) the most victorious in the two spirits' world.
16. Thereupon spake Zarathushtra: Praise to Haoma. Good is Haoma, and the well-endowed, exact and righteous in its nature, and good inherently, and healing, beautiful of form, and good in deed, and most successful in its working, golden-hued, with bending sprouts. As it is the best for drinking, so (through its sacred stimulus) is it the most nutritious for the soul.
30. At the aroused and fearful Dragon, green, and belching forth his poison, for the righteous saint that perishes, yellow Haoma, hurl thy mace!
At the (murderous) bludgeon-bearer, committing deeds unheard of, blood-thirsty, (drunk) with fury, yellow Haoma, hurl thy mace!
31. Against the wicked human tyrant, hurling weapons at the head, for the righteous saint that perishes, yellow Haoma, hurl thy mace!
Against the righteousness-disturber, the unholy life-destroyer, thoughts and words of our religion well-delivering, yet in actions never reaching, for the righteous saint that perishes, yellow Haoma, hurl thy mace!
32. Against the body of the harlot, with her magic minds o'erthrowing with (intoxicating) pleasures, to the lusts her person offering, whose mind as vapor wavers as it flies before the wind, for the righteous saint that perishes, yellow Haoma, hurl thy mace!
3. I praise the cloud that waters thee, and the rains which make thee grow on the summits of the mountains; and I praise thy lofty mountains where the Haoma branches spread.
4. This wide earth do I praise, expanded far (with paths), the productive, the full bearing, thy mother, holy plant! Yea, I praise the lands where thou dost grow, sweet-scented, swiftly spreading, the good growth of the Lord. O Haoma, thou growest on the mountains, apart on many paths, and there still may'st thou flourish. The springs of Righteousness most verily thou art, (and the fountains of the ritual find their source in thee)!
5. Grow (then) because I pray to thee on all thy stems and branches, in all thy shoots (and tendrils) increase thou through my word!
6. Haoma grows while he is praised, and the man who praises him is therewith more victorious. The lightest pressure of thee, Haoma, thy feeblest praise, the slightest tasting of thy juice, avails to the thousand-smiting of the Daevas.
7. Wasting doth vanish from that house, and-with it foulness, whither in verity they bear thee, and where thy praise in truth is sung, the drink of Haoma, famed, health-bringing (as thou art). [(Pazand) to his village and abode they bear him.]
8. All other toxicants go hand in hand with Rapine of the bloody spear, but Haoma's stirring power goes hand in hand with friendship. [Light is the drunkenness of Haoma (Pazand).]
Who as a tender son caresses Haoma, forth to the bodies of such persons Haoma comes to heal.
9. Of all the healing virtues, Haoma, whereby thou art a healer, grant me some. Of all the victorious powers, whereby thou art a victor, grant me some. A faithful praiser will I be to thee, O Haoma, and a faithful praiser (is) a better (thing) than Righteousness the Best; so hath the Lord, declaring (it), decreed.
10. Swift and wise hath the well-skilled Deity created thee; swift and wise on high Haraiti did He, the well-skilled, plant thee.
11. And taught (by implanted instinct) on every side, the bounteous birds have carried thee to the Peaks-above-the-eagles, to the mount's extremest summit, to the gorges and abysses, to the heights of many pathways, to the snow-peaks ever whitened.
12. There, Haoma, on the ranges dost thou grow of many kinds. Now thou growest of milky whiteness, and now thou growest golden; and forth thine healing liquors flow for the inspiring of the pious. So terrify away from me the (death's) aim of the curser. So terrify and crush his thought who stands as my maligner.
13. Praise be to thee, O Haoma, (for he makes the poor man's thoughts as great as any of the richest whomsoever.) Praise be to Haoma, (for he makes the poor man's thoughts as great as when mind reacheth culmination.) With manifold retainers dost thou, O Haoma, endow the man who drinks thee mixed with milk; yea, more prosperous thou makest him, and more endowed with mind.
14. Do not vanish from me suddenly like milk-drops in the rain; let thine exhilarations go forth ever vigorous and fresh; and let them come to me with strong effect. Before thee, holy Haoma, thou bearer of the ritual truth, and around thee would I cast this body, a body which (as all) may see (is fit for gift and) grown. (3)
20. And I desire to approach this Haoma with (my) praise, that which is thus lifted up with sanctity, and this milk (fresh as it is, and as if) living and lifted up with sanctity, and this plant the Hadhanaepata lifted up with sanctity.
21. And I desire to approach these Zaothras with (my) praise for the beneficial waters, these Zaothras which have the Haoma with them and the milk with them, and the Hadhanaepata, and which are lifted up with sanctity. And I desire to approach the Haoma-water with (my) praise for the beneficial waters, and the two mortars, the stone one and the iron one,
22. and I desire to, approach this branch for the Baresman with my praise, and the memorized recital and fulfillment of the Mazdayasnian law, and the heard recital of the Gathas, and the well-timed and persistent prayer for blessings(uttered) by the holy lords of the ritual order, and this wood and perfume, even thine, O Fire, Ahura Mazda's son, and all good objects Mazda-made
23. for the propitiation of Ahura Mazda, the resplendent, the glorious, and of the Bountiful Immortals, and of Mithra of the wide pastures, and of Raman Hvastra,
24. and of the resplendent sun, immortal, radiant, of the fleet horses, and of Vayu, (of predominant influence and) working on high, set over the other beings in the creation [(Pazand); that is for thee thus (O Vayu) when thine influence is that which appertains to Spenta Mainyu], and for the propitiation of the most just knowledge Mazda-given, and of the holy and good Religion, the Mazdayasnian Faith;
25. for the propitiation of the Mathra Spenta, (the bounteous) and holy, and the effective, instituted against the Daevas, the Zarathushtrian law, and of the long descent of the good Mazdayasnian Faith [the holding in mind and devotion to the Mathra Spenta, and knowledge of the Mazdayasnian Religion] for the propitiation of the understanding which is innate and Mazda-made, and of that which is heard by the ear;
26. and for thy propitiation, the Fire's, O Ahura Mazda's son! [(Pazand); (yea) thine, the Fire's, O Ahura Mazda's son] with all the fires, and for the propitiation of Mount Ushi-darena, the Mazda-made, radiant with sanctity; (27) and of all the holy Yazads, spiritual and earthly, and of the holy Fravashis, the redoubted and overwhelming, those of the ancient lore, and those of the next of kin and of the Yazad of the spoken name!
The Avesta confirms what the Rig Veda says about the manufacture of Soma, that it is collected in the mountains, it has stalks and branches, it is yellow in color, and it is mixed with milk. Also, the Avesta differentiates Hoama (Soma) from other liquors since it makes one "more endowed in mind." Alcohol, of course, has a sedative effect. It may be that ancestors of the Persians traded in the Soma plant with the Aryans of the Indus Valley.
The Mitanni gods being related to the gods of the Rig Veda have been a cause of scholastic speculation that the Indo-Europeans migrated from India to Europe, rather than from the steppes above the Black Sea to India. The invocation of the Nasatyas (Asvins in the Rig Veda) is particularly interesting since they are mysterious even today. In the Rig Veda they are the third aspect to be addressed: following Agni (fire) and Vayu (the god of wind). After the Asvins are propitiated Indra is addressed. Then follow the rest of the gods (Visvedevas). While Indra had a chariot with what appears to be two wheels, the Sun (Surya) drove a one-wheeled chariot; but Dawn drove a two-wheeled chariot. The Asvins drove an unusual chariot that had three wheels, with one wheel in front. It may be that the chariots mentioned in the early stages of the composition of the Rig Veda had four wheels, since the initial hymns refer to axels. The earliest use of wheels was no doubt in four-wheeled wagons.
Zoroastrian worship of Ahura Mazda, fire, Hoama & Mithra:
Avesta, YASNA 16
3. And we worship the former religions of the world devoted to Righteousness which were instituted at the creation, the holy religions of the Creator Ahura Mazda, the resplendent and glorious. And we worship Vohu Manah (the Good Mind), and Asha Vahishta (who is Righteousness the Best), and Khshathra-vairya, the Kingdom to be desired, and the good and bountiful Armaiti (true piety in the believers), and Haurvatat and Ameretat (our Weal and Immortality).
4. Yea, we worship the Creator Ahura Mazda and the Fire, Ahura Mazda's son, and the good waters which are Mazda-made and holy, and the resplendent sun of the swift horses, and the moon with the seed of cattle (in his beams); and we worship the star Tishtrya, the lustrous and glorious; and we worship the soul of the Kine of blessed endowment,
5. and its Creator Ahura Mazda; and we worship Mithra of the wide pastures, and Sraosha (Obedience) the blessed, and Rashnu the most just, and the good, heroic, bountiful Fravashis of the saints, and the Blow-of-victory Ahura-given (as it is). And we worship Raman Hvastra, and the bounteous Wind of blessed gift,
6 and (its) Creator Ahura Mazda, and the good Mazdayasnian Religion, and the good Blessedness and Arshtat. And we worship the heaven and the earth of blessed gift, and the bounteous Mathra, and the stars without beginning (to their course), self-disposing as they are.
7. And we worship the glorious works of Righteousness in which the souls of the dead find satisfaction and delight [(Pazand) which are the Fravashis of the saints], and we worship (Heaven) the best world of the saints, shining, all glorious.
8. And we worship the two, the milk-offering and the libation, the two which cause the waters to flow forth, and the plants to flourish, the two foes who meet the Dragon demon-made; and who are set to meet, to defeat, and to put to flight, that cheat, the Pairika, and to contradict the insulting malice of the Ashemaogha (the persecuting heretic) and that of the unholy tyrant full of death.
9. And we worship all waters and all plants, and all good men and all good women. And we worship all these Yazads, heavenly and earthly, who are beneficent and holy.
4. And we worship the Good Mind (in the living) and the spirits of the saints. And we sacrifice to the fish of fifty-fins, and to that sacred beast the Unicorn (?) which stands in Vouru-kasha, and we sacrifice to that sea of Vouru-kasha where he stands,
5. and to the Haoma, golden-flowered, growing on the heights; yea, to the Haoma that restores us, and aids this world's advance. We sacrifice to Haoma that driveth death afar,
6. and to the flood-streams of the waters, and to the great flights of the birds, and to the approaches of the Fire-priests, as they approach us from afar, and seek to gain the provinces, and spread the ritual lore. And we sacrifice to the Bountiful Immortals all!
1. Now I will proclaim to those who will hear the things that the understanding man should remember, for hymns unto Ahura and prayers to Good Thought; also the felicity that is with the heavenly lights, which through Right shall be beheld by him who wisely thinks.
2. Hear with your ears the best things; look upon them with clear-seeing thought, for decision between the two Beliefs, each man for himself before the Great consummation, bethinking you that it be accomplished to our pleasure.
3. Now the two primal Spirits, who reveal themselves in vision as Twins, are the Better and the Bad, in thought and word and action. And between these two the wise ones chose aright, the foolish not so.
4. And when these twain Spirits came together in the beginning, they created Life and Not-Life, and that at the last Worst Existence shall be to the followers of the Lie, but the Best Existence to him that follows Right.
5. Of these twain Spirits he that followed the Lie chose doing the worst things; the holiest Spirit chose Right, he that clothes him with the massy heavens as a garment. So likewise they that are fain to please Ahura Mazda by dutiful actions.
6. Between these twain the Daevas also chose not aright, for infatuation came upon them as they took counsel together, so that they chose the Worst Thought. Then they rushed together to Violence, that they might enfeeble the world of men.
7. And to him (i.e. mankind) came Dominion, and Good Mind, and Right and Piety gave continued life to their bodies and indestructibility, so that by thy retributions through (molten) metal he may gain the prize over the others.
8. So when there cometh their punishment for their sins, then, O Mazda, at Thy command shall Good Thought establish the Dominion in the Consummation, for those who deliver the Lie, O Ahura, into the hands of Right.
9. So may we be those that make this world advance, O Mazda and ye other Ahuras, come hither, vouchsafing (to us) admission into your company and Asha, in order that (our) thought may gather together while reason is still shaky.
10. Then truly on the (world of) Lie shall come the destruction of delight; but they who get themselves good name shall be partakers in the promised reward in the fair abode of Good Thought, of Mazda, and of Right.
11. If, O ye mortals, ye mark those commandments which Mazda hath ordained — of happiness and pain, the long punishment for the follower of the Druj, and blessings for the followers of the Right then hereafter shall it be well.
The Divine Twins
The precept of the Divine Twins is inherent in the Indo-European, Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythologies. In ancient Akkadian myths we have Enlil and Enki and the twin of Gilgamesh, Enki, in the Gilgamesh Epic; and these record a vegetation theme of rebirth. In Egypt the Divine Twins that record this story are Osiris and Set. Set is the image of the desert, the consuming dragon, who plots to destroy his brother Osiris, who is reborn. In the Bible the struggle is described as between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, and this struggle also results in the celebration of rebirth. The struggle between these two competing spirits, of truth and lying, is seen in the Rig Veda and the Avesta as well. All things considered, one swears by the Spirit of Truth and defies the Spirit of Lying, and just as this is what is expected of man by the gods of heaven, so is it under their auspices that the expectations of man are honored. Just as one seeks righteousness with the gods (or God), one extends that righteousness to his fellow-man — who honors the truth and righteousness (doing according to the truth). As we saw in the Rig Veda, those who are not of the truth are "faithless." They worship the wrong god(s).
Treaties are an extension of the Divine Banquet: the Sacrifice and Ritual in homage to the gods. The record of 1,380 B.C., Treaty of Mitanni, is remembering the names of Gods who enforce covenants. You swear by them. The relationship that such specific gods had to treaties can be seen in the Hittite_Treaties.html, which provides some documents that show how important specific gods were to treaties ~1,400 B.C. and earlier. The Hittite Storm-god, like Indra, reigned supreme in their covenants. Indra, through his thunder-and-lightning-bolts, had the power to enforce an agreement. Along with him were Mithra and Varuna, two together who in the Rig Veda are keepers of covenants. The sun, Surya, is their eye.
Book VII, LX Mitra-Varuna
2. ...Guardian of all things fixt, of all that
moveth, beholding good and evil acts
3. He from their home hath yoked the Seven
gold Coursers who, dropping oil and fatness,
Yours, Varuna and Mitra, he surveyeth
the worlds and living creatures like a
Rig Veda, Book VII, LXVI Mitra-Varuna
7. Soon as the Sun hath risen, to you, to Mitra-
Varuna, I sing,
And Aryaman who slays the foe.
10. Many are they who strengthen Law,
Sun-eyed, with Agni for their tongue,
They who direct the three great gather-
ings with their thoughts, yea, all things
with surpassing might.
11. They who have established year and month
and then the day, night, sacrifice and
Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, the Kings,
have won dominion which none else
13. True to Law, born in Law, the strengtheners
of Law, terrible, haters of the false,
In their felicity which gives the best
defence may we men and our princes dwell.
Since we can see a common bond in contracts between Mitra-Varuna, it remains for us, knowing that Varuna is the representative of heaven and with Mitra the Calender is maintained, it leaves us to pursue the identity of Mitra / Mithra:
Before Zoroaster (6th century BC or earlier), the Iranians had a polytheistic religion, and Mithra was the most important of their gods. First of all, he was the god of contract and mutual obligation. In a cuneiform tablet of the 15th century BC that contains a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Mithra is invoked as the god of oath. Furthermore, in some Indian Vedic texts the god Mitra (the Indian form of Mithra) appears both as ÒfriendÓ and as Òcontract.Ó The word mitra may be translated in either way, because contracts and mutual obligation make friends. In short, Mithra may signify any kind of communication between men and whatever establishes good relations between them. Mithra was called the Mediator. Mithra was also the god of the sun, of the shining light that beholds everything, and, hence, was invoked in oaths. The Greeks and Romans considered Mithra as a sun god. He was probably also the god of kings. He was the god of mutual obligation between the king and his warriors, and, hence, the god of war. He was also the god of justice, which was guaranteed by the king. Whenever men observed justice and contract, they venerated Mithra.
The most important Mithraic ceremony was the sacrifice of the bull. Opinion is divided as to whether this ceremony was pre-Zoroastrian or not. Zoroaster denounced the sacrifice of the bull, so it seems likely that the ceremony was a part of the old Iranian paganism. This inference is corroborated by an Indian text in which Mitra reluctantly participates in the sacrifice of a god named Soma, who often appears in the shape of a white bull or of the moon. On the Roman monuments, Mithra reluctantly sacrifices the white bull, who is then transformed into the moon. This detailed parallel seems to prove that the sacrifice must have been pre-Zoroastrian. Contract and sacrifice are connected, since treaties in ancient times were sanctioned by a common meal. (1)
A view of a divine bull is on the base of the Celtic Gundestrup bowl. On his forehead is a sign that looks like the swastika, a universal sign for good luck, but as the "Indian Sign" found among the American Indians, running in reverse. It looks more like the Ying-Yang sign, however. Above the bull is a god holding a dog on a leash. The bull has kicked a dog and beyond it is a horse. This scene is about a divine battle. It may be a creation scene, showing how the divine bull, the sun, kicked the earth and scattered life. The scene looks like a scattering of life, and the sign on the forehead of the bull rotates counter-clockwise, the same direction in which the animals are rotating on the base of the cauldron. Following this point of view, one might guess that the direction in which the scenes on the side of the bowl would be read would be counter-clockwise.
Nasatyas (Asvins) might be the Divine Twins. In Greek Mythology the Divine Twins are the Dioscuri, sons of Tyndareüs, king of Sparta, and his wife Leda, daughter of Thestius. (9) This is the same divine couple that produced Helen of Troy. This is another version to the common cattle-raid "cousin against cousin" theme of the Mahabharata and The Tain. The Dioscuri, Castor and (Polydeuces) Pollux, were sons of Zeus. They accompanied the Argonauts in their youth, were part of the Calydonian Bear hunt, and were later involved in a series of abductions, the first involving the daughters of Tyndareüs' brother, Leucippus. (8) Their names were Phoebe and Hiläeira. Later they and their cousins, Lynceus and Idas, went on a joint raid for some Aradian cattle, and in the division of the spoils the two cousins tricked the Dioscuri and made off with the cattle to their town of Messina. Realizing that they had been tricked, the Dioscuri recovered the cattle and started back to Sparta, pursued by Lynceus and Idas. Lynceus had fabulous powers of vision and spied the Diascouri hiding in the hollow of an oak tree, either for shelter or intending to ambush the pursuers. In the ensuing battle Idas killed Castor with a spear and Polydeuces killed Lynceus near the tomb of their father, Aphareus. Idas attempted to throw the tombstone at Polydeuces, but Zeus came to his son's rescue and killed Idas with a thunderbolt. Though he was saved, Polydeuces begged Zeus to allow him to share his brother's immortality and in granting the request Zeus provided that the two would alternate their days between Olympus and Hades. Later they became the constellation, Gemini. They became guardians of Mariners and appeared to ships in the form of St. Elmo's fire. Two balls signified the Dioscuri and one ball signified Helen, according to Pliny (Natural History 2.101). The Celtic twins appear to be Dylan Eli Ton, a god of the Sea, Son of the Wave. He was the yellow-haired son to Aranrhod and twin to Lleu. (Lug in Irish), meaning, "bright, shining." In The Mabinogion in the story of Math, son of Mathonwy, Math sent for his niece, Aranrhhod, meaning,"silver wheel," daughter of the goddess Don, whom Gwydyon said he wanted to marry. When Aranrhod came to him Math asked if she was a virgin. "I do not know that I am," the girl replied. Math took out his wand and bent it, saying, "Step over that, and if you are a virgin I will know." Aranrhod stepped over the wand, and with that step she dropped a sturdy boy with thick yellow hair. Gwydon immediately hid the boy in a chest until Math, who named him Dylan, son of Ton, decided it was time for him to be baptized.
The boy, called, Dylan, son of Ton (Dylan: sea; Ton: wave) took on his nature when he came to the sea and swam as well as the best fish. No wave ever broke beneath him. The blow that finally killed him was struck by his uncle Govannon (Goibniu), the blacksmith of the Irish gods. One day Gwydyon heard a cry from the foot of his bed and opened the chest that hid Dylan and found another boy in it. The boy grew quickly and by the end of the second year he was a big boy who could go to the court by himself. One day he and the boy were out walking and came across Aranrhod, who inquired about the boy. Gwydyon told her that the boy was hers and that the boy did not have a name. She got angry because he had hid the boy from her, that he was cursed until she names him, and he retorted that she was probably angry because she was not a virgin. Gwydyon and the boy were later in the harbor aboard ship, under a spell which disguised them, making shoes when they received a request to make shoes for Aranrhod. They kept sending the wrong size to her; finally when she came aboard ship to have her feet measured directly by the boy, a wren alighted nearby and he struck it with an arrow between the sinew and the bone of the leg. She laughed, 'God knows, the light-haired one hit it with a skilful hand.' "that he did," said Gwydyon, 'and God's curse upon you. The lad has got a name, and a good enough one: Lleu Skilful Hand he shall be from no on.'
His skills in all things were unexcelled and, above all, there was no one nor any device — except one — that could kill Lleu. We learn about that when it is time for Lleu to marry, and the beautiful las Blodeuedd was conjured up for him. But she was a bit racy and started carousing with Goronwy and the two illicit lovers decided to do away with Lleu. Blodeuedd told her lover that she would find out from Lleu exactly how to kill him (since he would tell her anything she asks). And he told her, "But unless God strikes me down, it will not be easy for anyone to kill me.' 'Then for God's sake and mine, tell me how you can be killed, for my memory is a better safeguard than yours." she said. 'Gladly. It will not be easy for anyone to strike me, since he would have to spend a year working on the spear, and no work may be done except when people are at Mass on Sundays.' 'Are you certain of that?' 'I am. I cannot be killed indoors or out of doors, on horse or on foot.' 'Then how can you be killed?' I will tell you. Make a bath for me on a river bank, with a good snugly thatched roof over the tub; then bring a buck goat and put it alongside the tub. If I put one foot on the goat's back and the other on the edge of the tub, whoever struck me then would bring about my death.' 'Well, I thank God for that,' she said, 'for this can be easily avoided.'
The day came when Goronwy and Blodeuedd were to complete their evil deed. And after bringing a goat from a flock of animals near the hut built especially for the purpose, Goronwy from the adjacent ridge threw a poisoned spear, just as Blodeuedd had Lleu planting his foot on the back of the goat. When the spear struck him, Lleu changed rose up, as an eagle, gave a horrible scream, and was never seen again. But one day Gwydyon, in persuit of a sow, that kept disappearing on him, found it eating rotten flesh and maggots that were falling from the top of a tree where an eagle was. Whenever the eagle shook rotten flesh fell away and the sow would eat. Gwydyon thought that the eagle was Lleu, so he sang this englyn:
An oak grows between two lakes,
Dark sky and glen.
If I speak truly
This comes from Lleu's feathers.
At that the eagle dropped into the middle of the tree. Gwydyon then sang another englyn:
An oak grows on a high plain;
Rain soaks it no more than does putrefaction.
It has supported twenty crafts.
In its branches is Lleu Skilful Hand.
At that the eagle dropped down into the lowest branch of the tree, and Gwydyon sang still another englyn:
An oak grows on a slope,
The refuge of a handsome prince.
If I speak truly
Lleu will come to my lap.
At that the eagle dropped down onto Gwydyon's knee, and Gwydyon struck him with his magic wand so that he regained human form. He was skin and bones, but before the year was out he was cured. Then it was time to receive compensation for the ill done to him. He chased down Blodeuwedd (meaning "flower face" from the flower of the oak) and changed her into a bird; some say it was an owl. Goronwy was given the option to suffer the same fate he served Lleu. At first looked for a stand-in, but no one volunteered. Finally, at the place where Lleu would cast the spear, Goronwy asked if they could place a standing stone between him and Lleu. Lleu agreed and then cast the spear. It went right through the stone and broke Goronwy's back. The stone still stands on the bank of Avon Gynvael in Ardudwy, with the spear through it, and so it is called Llech Oronwy (stone of Goronwy).
The other twins in Indo-European mythology tend to be brother and sister. Apollo and Artemis. Apollo travelled to Delphi in his youth and there killed a large serpent (or dragon). From that time an oracle emerged from the sacred site. It was this site and the treasures stored for the Pithian oracle that the Celts raided in 279 B.C. Apollo was considered to be one of the major gods of the Celts, along with Cernunnos and Mercury. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt (Roman, Diana). However, we see another huntress, Mean, shown in the Divine_Mirror.html, crowning Elchintre (Alexander, Alexandros, Paris).
On the other side of him, seated in the throne of Sparta, is Elinei, Helen of Troy, who is bargaining with Achmemnon (Agamemnon). See the entire scene on the Divine_Mirror.html.
The Trojan War is a story of offences against the gods by mortals and their punishment by the gods. Artemis, who is believed to be an Asian fertility goddess, was by nature quite jealous. One day Agamemnon said out of hand that he could shoot better than Artemis, and this infuriated her, and as a reprisal she demanded that before Agamemnon launches his attack on Troy he must sacrifice his daughter Iphigina. (10) There was more bad news to come, this time from Aphrodite, who happened to be with Athena and Hera, all admiring themselves in a mirror, and Paris happened upon them. They asked him who was the most beautiful of the three, and he answered (the event being called, "The Judgment of Paris") that Aphrodite was the most beautiful. This caused Hera to take the side of the Greeks against the Trojans in the Trojan war. And in reward for his judgment Aphrodite awarded Paris (Alexander) with the promise that he would wed the most beautiful woman in the world. That turned out to be Helen, and Aphrodite did not tell him in her blessing that when he was invited to the house of Menelaüs, husband of Helen, Queen of Sparta, he would fall in love with her. Menelaüs had to leave to attend his grandfather's funeral in Crete, leaving Paris with his wife and her cousins the Dioscuri. Paris fell in love with Helen and after a few weeks or so abducted her, along with the treasures from the house, and took her to Troy. In any event, the animal next to Mean's left leg is hoofed, suggesting a deer; in which case she would be like the Greek Artemis, Roman Diana.
The Celtic Apollo is Belenus ("The shining one."), later known as Beli Mawr, the Continental Sun-god of the Celts. This is found as an epithet used in parts of Gaul, North Italy and Noricum (part of Austria). He is a healer, associated with healing springs and the healing power of the sun. With a cult from northern Italy through Gaul and Britain, he is responsible for the welfare of sheep and cattle. His fire festival may be Beltine ("Fire of Bel"), celebrated May 1. On this day purifying fires were lit between which cattle were driven before they were put out to pasture.
Apollo is worshiped as a Sun-god and equated with the ancient Helios of Asia. It may be that the Celtic Belenus is maintaining that vision of him. He is identified with fire, as was Agni in the Rig Veda. Interestingly, Agni is not cited as one of the protective gods in the Treaty of Mitanni who were Indra, Mithras and Varuna. One of the twin Nasatyas may have evolved into Apollo.
The rites in the Rig Veda were chanted, with the participants facing east — during the dawn feast — led by Brahmins, who were priests, choral leaders and bards. Through the Rig Veda one can piece together an assembly which took place three times a day that included local functionaries, seven principal assistants, a corral of beasts brought for the sacrifice (or feast), and the people arranged around a fire altar in a circle. Eastward of the altar was a post to which the sacrificial victim was tied. The ceremony was held inside a hall which had two doors at least on either side (one for the dawn, the other for the sunset). The fire altar would have to have been located in the center of the hall to accommodate both needs. Near the fire altar was placed at least one large wooden vat containing Soma, and nearby the altar were also the Soma makers who were placed on an ox-hide with their two grinding-stones. Some kind of catchment arrangement had to be made to gather the dripping Soma juice pounded from the Soma plant. Thus, one can conceive that the Soma manufacturing could have been atop a platform down to which flowed the Soma from the grinding-stones. The Rig Veda depicts the Soma as a flowing stream, often compared to the rivers. From the bowls that caught the flowing juice the assistants would dip or pour, using ladles, the Soma into the filtering cloth raised over a beaker. At that time milk would be mixed with the juice, and the filtered contents of the beaker would be poured into the wooden vat where they would ferment mixed with curds, honey and barley. From the vat the assistants would serve, using beakers, the Soma to the guests and ladle some of it on the fire, perhaps serving Agni first, then the god Indra. After serving the Soma to the gods invited to the ceremony, among the first after Indra would necessarily have been the goddess of the dawn, then Surya the sun-god, there would have been the serving of the meats, including goats, sheep, cattle and probably for each ceremony a [red] bull. I suspect that on special occasions, such as an equinox, horses would be sacrificed. According to the Encylcopaedia Britannica the equinox is:
"either of the two moments in the year when the Sun is exactly above the equator and day and night are of equal length; also, either of the two points in the sky where the ecliptic (the Sun's annual pathway) and the celestial equator intersect. The vernal equinox, marking the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs about March 21, when the Sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox falls about September 23, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south. Some astronomical coordinates — e.g., right ascension and celestial longitude—are measured from the vernal equinox. It is sometimes called the first point of Aries because it was at the beginning of that constellation some 2,000 years ago. The term is still used, though precession of the equinoxes has moved the vernal equinox into Pisces."
Near the fire-altar would be the sacrificial altar where the beasts would be slaughtered. That altar would be in a place where the flow of the blood from the sacrifice would be collected. We can compare this view to what appears to have taken place on the island of Malta, and, of course, Celtic megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge. Among the several Maltese temples only one, it appears, to have been directly aligned with the equinox: the temple of Mnajdra. Of interest is the fact that in the Tarxien temple complex are stone carvings that are of goats, sheep, a pig, and bulls. The Mnajdra and Tarxien temples have multiple altars, including altars appearing to be for animal sacrifice. The purpose of the other altars is unknown. A salient feature of the temples includes large stone bowels. To view the large bowel or cauldron from a good site on the Maltese temples go to: http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/malta/ta16.html. It appears from these structures that part of the ritual within the Maltese temples included the pouring of libations, the cauldrons were located near altars, and associated with the pouring of the libations was an hearth. To the fire was probably served libations and meat. Associated with the structures are meanders, plant designs ending in a meander, and one altar whose base had a tree carved upon it. Among the sites on Malta is also the Hypogeum, an underground sanctuary with many chambers and several levels. One chamber had the plant design motif replicated on the ceiling. The design looks like algae. Celts (the Irish) to this day use algae for food and also as fertilizer for their windswept, rocky fields.
We don't imply that the people who built the temples of Malta (dating as early as 4,000 B.C.) were related to the Celts, but to question whether there was an underlying belief structure and technology common to the Celts and the Maltese temples. Stonehenge, in Somerset, England, and the Maltese temples in fact date from the same period. We know that whoever built Stonehenge and related megaliths in Britain and the Continent (Brittany), left their structures to the current occupants of the land: the Celts.
The Greek historians Hecateus of Miletus (c. 500-476 B.C.) and Herodotus of Halicarnassus (C. 490-425 B.C.) were the first to record the Celts, calling them Keltoi, with their place of origin at the headwaters of the Danube, the Rhine and the Rhône. During this period of time a culture that coincides with this area, called the Hallstatt (~1,200-500 B.C.) The Hallstatt culture is divided into four periods: Hallstatt A & B correspond to 1,200-800 B.C.; Hallstatt C, an early iron age phase, refers to 800-600 B.C.; and Hallstatt D refers to 600-500 B.C. ~500 B.C. The community located at Hallstatt itself abandoned the area in favor of mining the salt at Hallein, a place near modern Salzburg, Austria; the abandonment of the area may also have been due to a landslide. The main area of the Hallstatt culture was on the northern side of the Alps, from France to through Austria. Trade or copying of Hallstatt goods occurred, however, in an area outlined in blue in the map below. Click on the map to view a larger version of it. This map is based upon a map in Barry Cunliffe's The Ancient Celts, Oxford University Press, 1997, covering the distribution of the popular bronze Gundlingen sword.
Continuing and improving upon the Hallstatt culture was the La Tène culture, which flowered c. 400-200 B.C. spreading to Cadiz, Spain, into Northern Italy with a center at Milan, and east across the Carpathian mountains to Dacia. About 279 B.C. the Celts raided Delphi and carried off the treasure, storing it in Toulouse, France. They crossed the Bosphorus and settled in Central Turkey, where their territory was called Galatia. In 74 B.C. the powerful ruler of Galatia, Deiotaros, made an alliance with Rome against some of the surrounding Greek states. He took sides with the Roman general Pompey and later took Mark Anthony's side in the Roman Civil War. After Deiotaros died the Romans converted Galatia into an official province of the Roman Empire. The area was speaking Gaelic during the times of St. Jerome in the fourth century A.D. One of the epistles of St. Paul was addressed to the Galatians.
The Celts were well known for their military prowness and were used as mercenaries by the Romans and others. Some Celts hired themselves out to the pharaoh of Egypt in 186 B.C.
Whatever the Celts recorded as to their origins and history or historians have accounted to them has been nominal information. The Celtic version of the Rig Veda, for instance, has been lost, though we know that in the circulation of their tribes across most of Europe their language and culture survived. After Julius Caesar conquered Britain, there was religious persecution of the Celts. For instance their holy site, a grove on the island of Anglesey (Mona), was destroyed by Suctonius Paulinus about 61 A.D. The Celtic tradition, like the Vedic, was based upon memorization of the sacred scriptures and stories, and these were carried on by Druids, the Celtic equivalent of the Brahmins. The literature of the Celts that did survive is owed to the fact that around 1,100-1,200 A.D. there was a revival of all things Celtic in Britain and Ireland, perhaps from the Celtic occupation of illuminating books, and the bards began to record that which they could gather together at the time. Some of these works, such as the Irish cattle-raid, The Tain, and the Anglo-Saxon adventure of Boewulf, have already been discussed.
The Celts were horsed, Indo-European warriors. They were also a people who navigated the sea, crossing from the Continent to Britain and Ireland in boats generally covered with animal skins. Whatever the structure of the ancient boats, we know they were large enough and strong enough to carry livestock, including horses. When that first took place is anyone's guess. The Celtic literature dates itself to iron-age memories, and many of them are suffused with "Christian" characterizations. The gods are barely remembered and if anything at all converted to heroes. This happened in the Iliad, as well, but in the opposite vein, where heroes, like Hercules, were deified. As a result of Christian suppression of Celtic religion, no doubt throughout the Roman empire, the Celtic pantheon — which may have been around 33 in number as in the case of the Rig Veda — became transformed in the memories of the Bards. The gods LLyr, the god of the sea, Lug, Bran and Brigit became heroes; Druidesses and some women — who led armies and were foster-parents of heroes — became known as witches. To utter their names would condemn one to hell. Other characters were changed into fairies and goblins and a god that was a cobbler became a leprechaun. The extent to which the Celtic religion was suppressed is brought home when we realize that only 300 years ago in the United States 150 women were rounded up and brought to trial for witchcraft: from May–October 1692, a series of investigations and persecutions resulted in 19 convicted ÒwitchesÓ to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned in the town of Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
In spite of the wide distribution of the Celts, the only pockets of these feared and praised people that did hold onto the Celtic tradition were the Irish, Scots, the Welsh and the people of Brittany.
The Mabinogion is one such work that survived from Wales, and parts of it survived in a modified form in Ireland. The Welsh word mab means "boy" and the translation of Lady Charlotte concluded that mabinogi was a noun meaning, "a story for children." The word mabinogion, however, does not exist in Welsh. Like The Tain it is a wonderful story fit for all ages, and one of the mechanisms of the story-tellers, or bards, was the fact that every story seemed to always drift into a reality where it was being told by men sitting around a hall, each man eager to hear another story and perhaps each attempting to better the other's story.
Each story of the Mabinogion ends with a phrase, With that this Branch of the Mabinogi ends. For the stories are like a family history, on the order of the Mahabharata, but more disjointed. The stories are related because they are about relatives and the relatives take on characterizations that are in reality gods. Bran, for instance, we find as he crosses from Wales to Ireland to reclaim Branwen the daughter of King LLyr, is a giant. He is too big to fit in a ship, so he wades across to Ireland in front of his great fleet of ships. A person sitting on land sees a mountain with two lakes appear on the sea, and around the mountain are tall trees. When he reports of the vision it turns out that the two lakes were Bran's eyes and his head was the mountain. The trees were the masts of the ships. So that is how Bran first appeared on the horizon as he crossed the Irish sea. Once the fleet arrived in Ireland there was a problem on how to cross the river estuary and Bran offered to stretch across the river (near Dublin) so that his army could cross the river using him as a bridge: "...said Bran, let him who is a chief be a bridge. (This is the first time these words were spoken, and the proverb is still current.)" (4)
Bran was received by the king of Ireland and they offered to provide him quarters, but Bran was too big to fit in a house. So the king had a special house built in which he would fit, but in the building rows of pegs were placed on the walls where soldiers were hung, hidden in sacks. When Bran would lay down to sleep the armed men would jump out of the sacks and massacre everyone in the house. But their plot was foiled by Evnissyen who put his hand in each sack, finding instead of flour a man's head and crushing it. He killed all 200 of the men thus hidden away. After this the Irish and Bran's company made peace. Following this Evnissyen took it upon himself to take the lad Gwern by the feet and throw him into the fire. He was the son of the lovely Branwen. Being shocked, all in the room were in the greatest commotion, causing Bran to reach for Branwen and drag her between his shoulder and his shield, fending off the men. Then this happened:
"The Irish, however, began to kindle a fire under the cauldron of rebirth; corpses were thrown in until it was full, and next morning the warriors sprang forth as fierce as ever, except that they could not speak. When Evnissyen saw these corpses and no room anywhere in the cauldron for the men of the Island of the Mighty (Britain), he thought, 'Alas, God, wretched am I who brought this about on the men of the Island of the Mighty, and shame on me if I do not seek to deliver them.' He crept in among the Irish dead, and two bare-bottomed Irishmen found him and threw him in with the rest; Evnissyen stretched out inside the cauldron until he broke it into four pieces, and then his heart broke also. Consequently such victory as there was went to the men of the Island of the Mighty, though there was no victory save for the escape of seven men, and at that Bran had been wounded in the foot with a poisoned spear. The seven who escaped were Pryderi, Manawydan, Glinyeu son of Taran, Talyessin, Ynawg, Gruddyeu son of Muryel and Heilyn son of Gwynn the Old. Bran commanded them to cut off his head. 'Take my head,' he said, 'and carry it to the White Hill in London, and bury it there with the face turned towards France. You will be a long time on the road..and the head will be as good a companion as it ever was..(5).
The Celtic bards did have a charm about them (and still do). Here we show a view from the Gundestrop Cauldron that shows from a German point of view the cauldron of rebirth. This panel is on the inside of the cauldron which itself was broken in pieces and thrown into a sacred well. We have already examined the image of Cernunnos on this cauldron and compared it to the three-faced god on the Indus Valley seals. Cernunnos is a name the Romans recorded. We don't know the Celtic name of the god. On the bottom of the cauldron is an image of a bull. Other images are on the cauldron suggesting that the entire cauldron has to do with rebirth.
The making of mead, or meath, is part of the central ceremony of the Indo-European sacred rites. Inherent in the rites is the worship of a sun-god, and an attribute of the sun-god is a wheel. A wheel, of course, could not have been part of the characterization prior to the invention of the chariot and harnessing of the horse. So the image, in the case of the Celts, of Cernunnos with a wheel over his head pretty well dates the age of that god: when he acquired the symbol of a wheel and association of the horse.
Among the myths about the British is that of the Hyperboreans who lived in the far distant north and once a year would send their messages to the oracle of Delphi wrapped in sheaves of grain. Hecataeus, who wrote in the sixth century B.C., is quoted by Diodorus who reported that the Hyperboreans lived on a large island in the ocean facing the country of the Celts. There, in their magnificent circular temple, they worshipped the sun god.
Hecataeus may be repeating something passed down through memory from the Mycenaeans. It is noteworthy that some of the large stones of Stonehenge have carvings of Mycenaean daggers on them. Colin Burgess, The Age of Stonehenge, J. M. Dent, Great Britain, 1980, notes that the carvings were added long after Stonehenge was built. He also notes – which we will explore in more detail later – that the culture that built Stonehenge c. 4,000 B.C. was rather stable for a thousand years. Then there was a change involving the "beaker people" a people who practiced cremation and who perservered until about 1,500 B.C. But in 1,200 B.C. there was a major change which involved a hill-fort culture that continued down to the Roman occupation. In 1,200 B.C. hill forts were built in western France and they spilled across the channel to Britain, consisting of scattered Urnfield and northern French bronzes. Two ship-wrecks off the coast of southern England show the trade from the Continent increasing. (5) Those wrecks contained bronzes headed from France to England. Says Burgess, "Field systems from Achnacree in Argyll to Fengate in the Midlands and Dartmoor in the south-west were abandoned. At some of these the insidious spread of blanket peat has been revealed. Great areas of Celtic fields on the chalk were also abandoned, and the land reorganized for stock raising by division into grazing blocks with 'ranch boundaries'. These were drawn across the downland, often directly over abandoned field systems..Widespread waterlogging is indicated by the appearance on river banks from the Thames to the Trent of pile dwellings, and new trackways were laid down in all those areas, such as the Somerset Levels, prone to flooding." (6)
About 1,200 B.C. there was a major climate change in Britain. The climate was getting wetter and the place was getting waterlogged. We see in the stories of the bards, in fact, descriptions of chariots racing across the land kicking up sod (not dust). From Burgess' description of that period – where logs were laid to make roads passable, where before they were dry – we can suppose that what was witnessed in Britain was connected with a major shift to a wetter period there but perhaps a drought in the south. The Etruscan mythology recalls that the reason why their patriarchs migrated from Lydia after the Trojan War was because there was a great drought. As we saw above, with regard to the cauldron of rebirth of The Mabinogion, myths can have a good foundation, and there probably was a great drought in the southern part of Europe. And we also noted how the Rig Veda witnesses the drying up of the Sarasvati region. To Indra the dragon slayer who would break loose the flood they prayed. The Aryans may have fled into the Indus Valley from the Black Sea area for the same reason the Etruscans moved out of Lydia, and the Celts of 1,200 B.C. may very well have moved to Britain because of a drought in southern France. The period was also a time of considerable instability, where forts were built along sea-coasts from Greece to France, Egypt records its defense against the invasion of sea-peoples, the Philistines from Crete invade Egypt (recorded in Egypt as the Pulusti) and Palestine (a name derived from Philistine), and hill-top, fortified villages appear all over Europe.
Henry F. Lamb, in an online paper, Paleoperspectives – drought in North Africa, comments on the drought record in Egypt in the last 5,000 years:
Lake Qarun, in the Faiyum depression of Middle Egypt, is fed by annual overflows of the Nile through the Bahr Yusef channel. Its sediments provide a link between the Nilometer readings and the longer proxy record of floods and droughts, and with the archaeological record (Hassan, 1986, 1998; http://ecrc.geog.ucl.ac.uk/qarun/). Lake level fell abruptly on three occasions in the last 5,000 years – 3,000 BP, 3,800 BP, and most drastically at 4,200 BP. These low Nile flows affected ancient Egyptian society, founded on the rich alluvial soils of the floodplain, replenished annually during peak discharge caused by summer rainfall over the blue Nile headwaters in Ethiopia. The Old Kingdom collapsed in chaos at 4,200 BP, at a time of drought across much of SW Asia and the eastern Mediterranean (Bell, 1971; Hassan, 1981; Peiser, 1998; Cullen et al., 2000; Weiss, 2002). Prolonged aridity set in across all of northern Africa (Gasse, 2000). Less severe low-flow conditions in the Nile may also have been detrimental to irrigation agriculture in Egypt, because canals are less efficient during conditions of both low discharge and high sediment load.
A wonderful article by Charles A. Perry and Kenneth J. Hsu published online before print October 24, 2000 provides a chart that visually describes the environmental changes on the earth from 12,000 B.C. to the present. The title of the article is: Geophysical, archaeological, and historical evidence support a solar-output model for climate change. I highly recommend that you click on Figure 2 of the article, Solar-output model frokm 14,000 BP (12,000 B.C.) to 2,000 years AP compared with sea-level deviations and selected events. I have included a copy of the chart for those those unable to access the site.
Essentially increased solar radiation cycles correspond to warming periods, resulting in sea-level rise. Decreased solar radiation cycles correspond to cooling periods (Ice-ages) and droughts. Two events on the chart are relevant here, which include the 4,000 BP warming event, ending about a 1,500 year cooling cycle, and the "Centuries of Darkness event," 3,250 BP - 2,750 BP (1,250 B.C. - 750 B.C.) which marked the end of a short, 500 year cooling cycle (drought), and the beginning of a warming cycle that has essentially continued. We all know that it is continuing as we speak, and for what it is worth the Caspian Sea level has been rising. In an online article, Caspian Sea-Level Rise: An Environmental Emergency, Dr.A.Tolkatchev, Senior Assistant Secretary, IOC Secretariat, UNESCO, says: "The rapid rise of the Caspian Sea level ( about 2.25 meters since 1978) has caused great concern to all five surrounding countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. Endowed with an oil-rich basin and one of the planet's most biologically productive water bodies, the region is characterized by many big cities and other human settlements along the sea coastal line."
Solar-output model, of Perry and Hsu, reproduced by permission of PNAS; click on chart for larger image.
It would appear that we are in a dramatic climatic event, just as was experienced about 1,200 B.C. Both droughts and increased moisture can cause people to move for a variety of reasons, depending upon where they are located. In Britain one could possibly – according to myth – walk to the isle of Wight. (The Celts identified their land as including the Island of Britain and its three smaller islands, the island of Anglesey (Mona), Man, and Wight). But when it began to get warmer ~1,200 B.C. lands that were arable turned into bogs, roads could not be used without being cordoned, where the lowlands were excellent for growing wheat the lands had to be abandoned, and in some cases barley became the staple where wheat would not grow. In modern terms we all have witnessed major flooding in Britain and the Eastern seaboard of the United States, the increase of hurricanes in frequency coming from the African coast riding on winds from the Sahara desert; and we all watch the evening news describing the movement of the Sahara desert south, impacting the people of the Sudan. Climatic changes have political effects, where a dominant group having more difficulty sustaining itself due to climatic change may kick out another group from an adjacent territory to take over its land (as appears to be happening in the Sudan). Frequently throughout our archeological past we find areas and cities completely abandoned and later reoccupied. Some cities never are reoccupied.
Celtic Religion as it relates to the Rig Veda
We can use as a point of reference the Treaty of Mitanni c. 1,380 B.C. which invokes Gods important to the Hittites and the Persian ancestors: Mitra and Varuna, Indra and the two Nasatyas. In essence these boil down to the Fire/Sun god, Mitra (Helios / Apollo), the Sky-god, Varuna (Uranus) and Thunder-god, Indra (Zeus). A history of the Mitanni and the Hurrians, who are connected with them, is at: http://www.angelfire.com/nt/Gilgamesh/hurrian.html. (Not much is known about the Mitanni).
These gods can help us understand a little more about the Celtic gods, who were briefly recorded by historians (in different contexts). In his commentaries on the Gallic Wars, Book VI, Julius Caesar says that the most popular god of the Celts was comparable to the Roman Mercury, of whom the Celts have many images. He is regarded as the inventor of all arts and presides over travel and commerce. He says that the other deities include Apollo, who averts diseases; Minerva, who instructs in industry and craft, Mars who controls warfare, and Jupiter who has supremacy among the gods. Lucan, in Pharsalia, names three Celtic deities: Teutates, Taranis and Esus, all of whom were propitiated by human sacrifice. The victims of Teutates were to be drowned, Taranis's victims would be burnt, and those sacrificed to Esus hanged. "The Celtic names are informative. Teutates means 'the god of the tribe' from the Celtic teuta 'tribe'; Taranis is probably a sky god whose name comes from the Celtic taran 'thunder'; while Esus means 'good' in the sense of all -competent. It is reasonable, therefore, to equate Taranis with Jupiter as a deity of the sky and Esus (the all-competent_ with Mercury ('inventor of the arts'). In another guise Esus may have been synonymous with Lugh, a widely revered deity in the Celtic world whose name is preserved in a number of place names such as Lugudunum (Lyons) and Luguvallum (Carlisle). In Ireland Lugh (whose associated description means 'skilled in many arts together') conquered the evil creatures of the other world and was celebrated at the harvest feast of Lugnasad held on 1 August...Teutates, who was the protector of the tribe in times of war, is to be seen as roughly equivalent to Mars in Caesar's list. His Apollo and Minerva find no parallels in Lucan's classification but may be recognized among the Celtic gods. Minerva is most likely to be a generalization for a formidable troop of female deities who appear under various names as the consorts of male gods of the tribal kind, as protectors of springs and rivers, or simply as Matres or Matronae — the divine mothers. Caesar's Apollo is probably the Celtic Maponos — the divine son — whose cult is known in Gaul and Britain and may be associated with healing springs.
"If the Celtic deities are approached through the vernacular literature of Ireland, a rather different perspective is achieved. Here the essential structure was a dualism between the male tribal god and the female diety of the land. The male deity was the Dagda, which means the good (that is all-competent) god who served as the protector of the tribe. He was all-embracing and included among his functional attributes control of warfare and the provision of wisdom. The Dagda's counterpart and consort was the Morrigan, a native goddess frequently referred to as 'the Queen of Demons' in the Irish tesxts but also known under the other names such as Mach and Maeve.." (7)
The Celtic calendar (a sample of it was found on a copper alloy at Coligny near Bourg, dating to the first century B.C.) had three or four principal festivals:
The first festival was Samain, November 1, which marked the end of the old year and beginning of the new, which we celebrate as Halloween. This was a time when the spirits of the dead could roam freely. Dagda and Morrigan would come together and perform their fertility rite, and it is at this time that communities would elect their harvest king and queen, for this also marked the official beginning of the harvest (though it would vary depending upon location and season). To read some traditions about the harvest king and queen in Britain go to: http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/articles/harvest.htm. In some societies, as recorded by anthropologists such as Joseph Campbell in his Masks of God, etc., the harvest king and queen were sacrificed. The binding of the sheaves on this site recalls the Greek memory of the Hyperboreans binding their messages in sheaves, sending them to the oracle at Delphi. The oracle at Delphi (of Apollo) was a female served by virgins.
The next festival, Imbolc, took place on 1 February and is associated with the goddess Brigit, a goddess of fertility, learning and healing, equated to Athena (Roman, Minerva). She is the daughter of the Dagdha and one of the great mother-goddesses of Ireland. There is a Saint Brigit of Kildare, who is believed to have lived from 450-523 A.D.
The third festival was Beltan, Beltine, held on 1 May (May day). This festival is associated with the Celtic god Bel, or Belenus, who is associated with fire.
August 1 was the festival of Lugnasad in tribute to the god Lug. This is a time when the Council of the Gauls would meet and taking advantage of this — in order to break up Celtic unity — the Emperor Augustus relocated the place of the meeting to his controlled territory: at the Altar of Rome and Augustus at Lyons.
The Winter Solstice, December 21, Alban Arthuan (The Light of Arthur), also referred to as Yule, Jul, Saturnalia, and Christmas. This feast takes place on or about December 21 and marks the longest, darkest night of the year. This is a festival of peace and a celebration of waxing solar light. Many honor the new Sun by burning an oaken Yule log, and honor the Goddess in her many Mother aspects. The Father God is honored as Santa Claus today, but as the Old Sky God he was Father Time and Holly King.
Importance of the Treaty of Mittani
The gods we know to have existed in~1,380 B.C., mentioned in the Treaty of Mitanni, can help us organize the major Celtic gods, as well as the Etruscan gods, with the Rig Veda. The link between the Celtic Cernunnos Horned god and the Indus Valley Horned god can lead us — through a process of elimination — in reconstructing a pantheon of the major ancient Indo-European gods. For instance, in the treaty Indra, Mithra, Varuna and the twins, the Nasatyas, are invoked. Who is not represented in this formative pantheon are the Hindu gods Agni, Vishnu and Shiva. Since Shiva is not mentioned in the Rig Veda and only comes later in Vedic literature, by process of elimination we can conclude that Indra represents characteristics later acquired by Shiva. The major gods of the Rig Veda are: Agni (the sacrificial fire and messenger of the gods); Indra (the ram, the conqueror who wields the thunder-bolt; heroic god, rich in deeds, who slays enemies like the dragon Vrtra; who has a form, Kapinjala, called the Francoline partridge); Vayu (the wind); Soma, the sacred mead; Rbhus (the Celestial race, of Rbhus, Vibhvan and Vaja); Brahmanaspati (a god of thunder, used by Indra), Rudra (the wild-boar, him with the braided hair, father of the Maruts); the Maruts (the clouds, of weather); Mitra; Varuna (the far-seeing sky and sea god, king of earth and heaven); Surya (the sun); Ushas (the dawn), the Asvins (Nasatyas, the [male] twins); the Adityas; Savitar, Dyaus Pita (the sky), Prithivi (the earth); the Vishvadevas (all the gods); Vishnu (making the stalk that gives meath flow forth with might — Rig Veda, Book X, CXIII.2); the preserver of the cosmos; reincarnated as Avatars, including Rama); Tvastar (the inventor and smithy of the gods), Pushan (protector of cattle; Soma and Pushan, Parents of all riches); Bhaga (a general name for god — see Slavic, bog), Dadhikravas, Lord of travel, the horse [the sun] of Varuna), Brhaspati (Lord of Prayer, leader of the song), Sarasvati (the sacred river, Sarasvati); Vac (Queen of Gods, vox, voice, whose home is in the waters; I bring forth the father); and the goddess Ila; Yama, (God of the dead, Lord of the place where our ancient fathers, Angirases, etc. have departed) and Kama (desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit, Eros).
An ancestral god of the Celts is Dispater. He may equate to the Rig Veda's Dyaus Pita. Another Celtic god, is Tannus (also called Tinnus, Taranis and Taranus). The modern Breton word for thunder is "taran"; thus we can compare him to the Nordic Thor and Indra. He is the Greek Zeus and related to the Roman Jupiter. But Zeus and Jupiter are also compared to the Rig Veda's Dyaus Pita. The feast of Tannus is Yule. That Tannus is Zeus / Jupiter can be confirmed in the Etruscan thunder-bolt-god, Tinia. One can read about him at the Divine_Mirror.html. Click on the photo to read about the story of Tinia (Lat. tono-are, to thunder); who changed into a swan to catch Ralna (Gr. Nemesis), who turned into a goose; the result of which was the production of the egg from which Helen of Troy hatched. The Greek version of the story holds that Zeus turned into a swan to catch the goddess Nemesis whose egg was turned over to Leda, wife of King Tyndareus, to be reared. Some say that it was Leda who turned into a goose, being chased by Zeus, the swan, and produced the egg.
Another Etruscan god is IVPATER (Jupater), who is probably Iuppiter (Jupiter), also called Jovis, mentioned once in the Etruscan scripts at Q224. It is believed that Celtic Dis Pater is the ancestor, the primal God of creation, who later merged with Don and Cernunnos, the Horned God. Don is the Deep Sea, Queen of the Heavens, goddess of sea and air. Her consort is Beli and she is the mother-goddess from whom the Britons believe they are descended. She is known for the control of the elements and eloquence. In these terms she is Vac in the Rig Veda. Dis, Ditis, is the Latin name of Pluto, God of the Lower World; he is the Greek Hades. We can see Hades, whose Etruscan name is Aita, on an Etruscan mural from the Tomb of Orcos. Orcos is another name of the Underworld, also the Greek Erebes (Lat. Erebus-i). The Etruscan word for Erebes is Arepes, used in script N; the locations of the word can be viewed in Etruscan GlossaryA.xls. Yama would be the Rig Veda equivalent of Hades, and we can see in the Rig Veda his rule and place is respected. The hymns appeal to him to come to the banquet, drink of the Soma and bring the ancestors with him. In the Greek myths three gods rule all: Hades, god of the Underworld, Zeus, God of Heaven and Earth, and Poseidon, God of the Sea. In Roman mythology Dis or Pluto represent both the Underworld and wealth. In Celtic images Cernnunos likewise a god of wealth is shown seated on his thrown with a cornucopia at his feet. In an Etruscan mural (click on the thumbnail) we can see visually what is related about Hades, as we know from the story of Theseus, that it is a place of both good and evil attributes. In the story Theseus (Etruscan, These) descends into hell to abduct Persephone (spelled in Etruscan, Phersipnei; Lat. Proserpina). The Elysian Fields are reached by descending into Erebus and crossing the river Styx which is guarded by the ferryman, Charon. Charon carries a hammer and he uses the hammer to hit the dead over the head, particularly those who do not pay for their passage across the river to the heavenly, Elysian fields. Charon appears in Etruscan tombs as he gives chase to the occupants of the tomb. Coincidentally we have the Etruscan name Atieria, probably referring to (See Indo-European Table 1.html), the descendents of the Lydian patriarch, Atys, ancestors of the Etruscans.
The Celts, thus, are a link to understanding Etruscan mythology. And Etruscan mythology can shed light on Celtic mythology. Because the Celtic mythology remembers a pantheon mentioned in 1,380 B.C. in the Treaty of Mitanni, it is an important link to understanding other ancient mythologies. For instance, the Slavic version of Indra is called Perun. We know that the Slavic word for god is "bog," and "Bhaga" is a generic name for god in the Rig Veda.
If Indra is the Etruscan Tinia and Celtic Tannus / Tinnus, then we are left with identifying Mitra, Varuna and the Asvins, of those names listed in the Treaty of Mitanni. We know that Varuna is Uranus. It was Uranus who mated with Ge to beget the other gods. Their son, Cronus (L. Saturn), castrated his father with a sickle of flint given to him by his mother Ge. He and his sister, Rhea, had children: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Cronus (L. Saturn) swallowed all of his children, except Zeus, whom Rhea, seeing the god devouring their children, secreted away in Crete. She bundled a rock in swaddling clothes and gave it to Cronus (Saturn) to swallow, in lieu of Zeus. When Cronus (L. Saturn) castrated his father, Uranus, the genitals fell into the ocean near Cyprus, and from the foam grew the goddess of love, Aphrodite (L. Venus).
There is a Celtic god who has a sickle over his shoulder, and he is probably Cronus (L. Saturn). An Akkadian god in cylinder seals also appears with a sickle.
In a Gallo-Roman altar found at Reims Cernunnos is pictured with a sack or cornucopia of coins on his lap, and to his right is Apollo, who holds a lyre; and on his left is what appears to be Mercury, who appears to hold a herald's staff (L. caduceus). Above the head of the three gods is a rat, and below them is a bull and a stag. The bull and stag are signs of Cernunnos.
On the bottom of the Gundestrup Cauldron is an engraving of a man with a hound on a leash, two animals, possibly another dog and a horse who have been kicked by the bull, and a bull with an infinity sign on its forehead. In another stone altar of Cernunnos, called Les Bollards, Cernunnos has to his right two other divinities. In this stone the figure adjacent to Cernunnos appears to be a woman and the figure to the right of them may be their child. Below them are animals and below the female is a plant. Between her leg and the leg of Cernunnos is a skull. Cernunnos is pictured in this stone with three faces, which, as we can see, is common to the Indus Valley seal with the three-faced Horned god. In the Reims Gallo-Roman altar Cernunnos is obviously the god of wealth, with coins spilling from his lap, in addition to being the Lord of the beasts (like the Hindu god, Shiva). A three-faced god also appears on Akkadian cylinder seals.
If the Roman god Dis (Pluto) is identified with wealth, then Cernunnos would be Dis, or Hades. The wife of Hades is Persephone. She is the goddess of the Underworld and is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Hades obtained the consent of Zeus to abduct her; and near Henna, Sicily it is reported that he appeared in his chariot and carried her off, down to his world, into the innards of the earth. After much pleading from her to be released from the dark and dismal place, he agreed to let her go, provided that she spend half of the year with him (some say 1/3 of a year). Her rising on the earth celebrates rebirth; and though she was feared there is one case where she allowed a woman to return from the dead. The only other person who escaped from Hades was the hero, Theseus, who, with his friend, Peirithoüs, had been frozen in Hades' "stone chairs of forgetfulness," lost in a deep, sleep-like state. He [alone] was rescued by Hercules (Gr. Heracles). Hades was like Dyaus Pita in the Rig Veda and does not fit into the Treaty of Metanni pantheon. Pluto (Ploutos) stems from Demeter, the corn-goddess (L. Ceres) and Iasion, who produced Plutus in a thrice-grown field in Crete. He was commonly represented in art as a boy bearing a cornucopia. He was merged with the Roman god, Dis (Hesiod, Theogony, 996-974).
In the Les Bollards stone, next to the third person is a vase with a flower. In The Mabinogion we have the story of Bran and Branwen. In the rescue of Branwen from Ireland the Cauldron of Rebirth was broken, Bran was shot in the leg with a poisoned arrow, and he asked that his head be placed in London, facing France. Branwen is the sister of Bran and she is considered the Venus of the Northern Seas, and through the story of the Cauldron of Rebirth she represents rebirth. She was married to the Irish king Mathowch who mistreated her, causing Bran to leave Wales and raid Ireland to redeem her. The skull in the stone may be a version of the "Talking Head" of Bran.
The Greek god Zeus was married to Hera, but he had many liaisons with other goddesses and mortal women. We have seen seated next to the Etruscan god Tinia his wife Ralna, as she relates to the story of the Trojan War and the abduction of their daughter Helen. But Tinia (also written as Tini; the "ia" suffix appears to be a genetive ending, in several Etruscan names) was officially married to the goddess Uni (also spelled Unia), who is Latin Juno and Greek Hera. We can confirm this through a mirror which shows Uni suckling Heracles (as Hera did). The equivalent Roman god to Zeus is Jupiter, Etruscan Tinia, Rig Veda, Indra. The main Celtic goddess of wealth is considered to be Brigit. Brigit shares attributes with the ancient Greek goddess Hecate; however, Hecate was, like Persephone, a goddess of the Underworld. She was initially compared to Demeter, as a fertility goddess, since the Underworld was the source of fertility, but she was a nocturnal goddess, going round with a torch. The pre-Christian Brigantes, from whom Brigit's name derives, believed her to be identical to the Roman Juno, Queen of Heaven. Rosmerta is another Celtic goddess, of fertility and wealth, who was the wife of the god Esus, but also of the Gaulish Mercury. Her attributes are a cornucopia and a stick with two snakes. She probably equates to the Roman goddess Ops, Greek Rhea. If Rosmerta was the wife of the Celtic Mercury, then she would not have been the lady sitting next to Cernunnos in the stone from Les Bollards. A discussion on the principal ladies of Heaven and /or the Underworld follows in Banquet4.html. The lady's influence concerning hopes in the afterlife will be discussed there.
Keeping in context the Treaty of Mitanni, knowing that Indra, Mitra, Varuna and the Asvins are the acknowledged gods, we can — for the sake of elimination — identify Indra as the three-faced god on the Indus Valley seals and the Celtic Tannus, Etruscan Tinia. The Roman Janus, god of ports would equate to them as well. Juppiter may have entered the Latin pantheon in some other role as Chief of the Gods, following this line of thought. The gods with multiple eyes (faces) may represent the original Chiefs of the Indo-European Gods. Indra, for instance, was marked in a battle where the marks turned into a thousand eyes.
Varuna, the older god, was the supreme lord of the cosmos, the keeper of divine order, the bringer of rain, and the enforcer of contracts. He represents the sky and the sea, from which Indra the thunder-bolt thrower is created. Varuna is the Greek Uranus, who fathered Cronos, the father of Zeus, etc. The reason why Varuna would be cited in the Treaty of Mitanni is because he is the keeper of contracts, like Father Time (L. Saturn). The Greek Cronos, in Roman mythology, is Saturn (from which we have Saturday), who was associated with fertility and agriculture. Saturn was associated with the goddess Ops, of wealth and abundance. Ops was identified with Cronos' wife, Rhea. Saturn's festival was the Saturnalia which took place in celebration of the Winter Solstice, initially December 17 and Ops' festival December 19; during the empire the festival took place over a week: December 17-23. On the pre-Julian calendar the Winter Solstice was December 25. During the festival gifts were exchanged. This is also the Yule festival of the Celts and Germans, of which we have the sign of the wheel, representing the sun, and a character who brings gifts, as a father (Santa Claus) and remembered in antiquity as the father who carried a sickle over his shoulder as Father Time. This brings us back to the Celtic god, Tannus / Tinnus, whose feast -time was Yule, associated with the oak tree and the eagle and was a god of the wheel (sun) and fertility. The Etruscan Tinia and Celtic Tinnus must be the same diety, equating to Zeus and Indra.
Indra's festival, like Saturn's, is the New Year, which would be at the Winter Solstice, when the Sun turns from its northward journey. Tannus, Indra and Saturn share the same (Winter Solstice) festival. Saturn is a god more peculiar to the Latins though the rest of the Roman pantheon became somewhat of an imitation of the Greek. What exists of Roman Mythology tends to be borrowed from the Greeks. In the Aeneid by Virgil we are reminded of that, how the Latins reconstructed their mythology, picking up from the Iliad. We are also told by Virgil that there was a Greek colony near the site that would become Rome; in fact he notes that the neighbors of the Trojan ancestors of Rome were Etruscans and Greeks. We can readily see through the "Hellenic Period" of Etruscan artifacts the influence the Greeks had on their culture as well.
What happened in the Roman or Latin tradition that caused the Romans to get their own traditions subsumed to the Greek tradition? How is it that Jupiter became the head of the Roman pantheon whilst Saturn had the main feast day? Saturn was a mythical ancestral king of Latium, and it may be that he is the real Dis Pater, the Hindu Dyaus Pita (the sky).
Wednesday is Woden's (Odin's) day, also known as dies Jovis [Jove's or Jupiter's day]. Jove's feast day was July 5, Poplifugia, held in the Campus Martius; and September 4-September 19, Ludi Romani, also known as the Roman Games. For a complete list of Roman festivals go to: http://home.comcast.net/~rthamper/html/body_feasts-holdiays.html.
Varuna (Greek Uranus may) have become in the Roman religion, Saturn. In the Rig Veda most of the feasts (three times a day) are dedicated to Indra and, of course, Agni. Varuna hardly comes into view, except in dualities such as Indra-Varuna, Agni-Varuna. In India the seasons were different. But if we keep the Winter Solstice, then it would be Indra's major feast day, since it is the feast-day of the Roman Saturn and Celtic Tannus. It would also be the feast day of the Etruscan god Tinia.
The feast day dedicated to Indra today is Nutan Varsh, which is the Hindu New Year, a time of the new harvest, held ~ 14 April. India's official calendar is based upon the Rig Veda and is a lunar calendar, called the Saka Calendar, this year being 1922. The New Year's festival varies from one area to another in India, and it could occur as early as 26 March. They also use a Solar Calendar and the Solar New Year is celebrated as Mesh Sankrati, when the sun rises in Aries (March). The Winter Solstice is celebrated as Makar Sankranti, usually falling in the middle of January. According to http://www.hinduism.co.za/makar.htm, "Makara Shankranti is called Pongal by the Tamilians, from whom it ushers in the New Year. The day begins with Surya Pongal or sun worship. The newly harvested corn is then cooked for the first time." According to that web site, there are four other festivals, all dedicated to goddesses:
"There are also four universally observed parvas (festivals) namely Shravani Upakarma, Vijaydashami, Deepawali and Holi. Parva means a link that joins two things. It is that link on which the skeleton stands. The joints of a man's skeleton are, therefore, called parvas. It is with the help of these that an individual can stand, can sit, can bend and can lunge. Without these joints man would be stiff and not be able to make any movements. Likewise is the state of nations and societies, the framework of which is based on parvas (festivals). Without these parvas society would have collapsed a long time ago.
"These four festivals commence with Upakarma (Raksha-bandhan) and end with Holi. The four festivals are associated with four different goddesses. Raksha-bandhan is associated with Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of education); Vijaydashami with Shakti (goddess of power); Holi with Prasannata (goddess of joy) and Deepawali is associated with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth).
"Joyous festivities mark the celebration in every home. Servants, farmers and the poor are fed and clothed, and given presents of money. On the next day, the cow, which is regarded as the symbol of the Holy Mother, is worshipped. Birds and animals are also fed."
It appears that Cernunnos best equates to Tannus and the goddess next to him should be his consort and next to them their child. As noted, Zeus fathered many gods and demi-gods, such as Hercules (Heracles). A female deity is not invoked in the Treaty of Mitanni, and in the Rig Veda only Earth, Prithivi, is addressed to any degree, and she is usually addressed with her counterpart, Dyaus Pita (the sky).
In the Rig Veda there are three worlds. The heavens form a 1/2 bowl above and the earth forms a 1/2 bowl below. A third world, the Otherworld or Underworld, is in an undefined region. To reach it, the place ruled over by the Dragon, the hero Rama, in The Ramayana, waded across the sea (as Bran waded across the Irish sea).
Gundestrop Cauldron showing a female goddess being dressed with a head-band. Above her are two eagles. In her left hand appears to be the legs of a man, and raised in her right hand appears to be an animal.
The female deity who is the consort of Cernunnos in the Les Bollards stone must be represented on the Gundestrop Cauldron. She would be a fertility goddess and no doubt associated with animals. For the moment we might recall the Mycenaean snake goddess, who is bare-breasted holding in either hand a snake (considered a messenger of the Underworld). This may lead us to the Greek goddess Hera: Zeus' wife, Hera, was jealous of his fooling around with other women, such as Nemesis, and put two poisonous snakes in the crib of Heracles. An Etruscan fertility goddess, apart from Uni (Roman Juno, Greek Hera), was Aph. She may be the equivalent of Ceres / Demeter. The Celtic Great Queen goddess was Rhiannon, who was the goddess of enchantments, fertility and the Underworld. She is seen riding a swift white horse and believed to be the Welsh counterpart of Epona, the Gaulish horse goddess. She is the wife of Pwyll and mother of the hero Pyrderi. She is associated as a sun goddess and also a death goddess. Pictured here on the gundestrop Cauldron may be Brigit, and not Rhiannon. But Rhiannon seems close to the Greek Rhea.
A good online glossary on Celtic mythology, is at: http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/deitiesr-s.html.
Since the focus of the Banquet of the Gods had to do with eternal life, and it seems that the ladies were in the center of that hope of mythology, we shall continue with the banquet, now addressing the ladies of the Underworld. To obtain more morsels to chew upon click .
(1) Encyclopaedia Britannica
(2) Nasatyas is another term for the Asvins. "Derived by Indian Commentators from na = asatya 'not untrue,' is a name of common occurrence applied jointly to the two Asvins. Nasatya is said to be specially the name of one of the Asvins, the other being then called Dastra, 'wonder-worker,' or perhaps 'destroyer' (of the wicked)." [Griffith's note]. Let's take another look at them:
Rig Veda, Book 1, Hymn III Asvins
1. Ye Asvins, rich in treasure, Lords of splendor,
having nimble hands,
Accept the sacrificial food.
2. Ye Asvins, rich in wondrous deeds, ye
heroes worthy of our praise,
Accept our songs with mighty thought.
3. Nasatyas, wonder-workers, yours are these
libations with clipt grass:
Come ye whose paths are red with flame.
Rig Veda Book 1, Hymn CXVI Asvins
1. I trim like grass my song for the Nasatyas
and send their lauds forth as the wind
Who in a chariot rapid as an arrow,
brought to the youthful Vimada a consort.
2. Borne on by rapid steeds of mighty pinion,
or proudly trusting in the Gods' in-
That stallion ass of yours won, O Nasatyas,
that thousand in the race, in Yama's
3. Yea, Asvins, as a dead man leaves his
riches, Tugra left Bhujyu in the cloud
Ye brought him back in animated vessels,
traversing air, unwetted by the billows.
4. Bhjyu ye bore with winged things, Nasatyas,
which for three nights, three days
full swiftly travelled,
To the sea's farther shore, the strand of
ocean, in three cars, hundred-footed,
with six horses.
5. Ye wrought that hero exploit in the ocean
which giveth no support, or hold or station,
What time ye carried Bhujyu to his
dwelling, borne in a ship with hundred
oars, O Asvins.
6. The white horse which of old ye gave
Aghasva, Asvins, a gift to be his wealth
Still to be praised is that your glorious
present, still to be famed is the brave
horse of Pedu.
7. O heroes, ye gave wisdom to Kaksivan
who sprang from Pajra's line, who sang
Ye poured forth from the hoof of your
strong charge a hundred jars of wine
as from a strainer.
8. Ye warded off with cold the fire's fierce
burning; food very rich in nourishment
Astri, cast downward in the cavern, Asvins,
Ye brought, with all his people, forth
9. Ye lifted up the well, O ye Nasatyas, and
set the base on high to open downward.
Streams flowed for folk of Gotama who
thirsted, like rain to bring forth thousand-
10. Ye from the old Cyavana, O Nasatyas,
stripped, as 'twere mail, the skin upon
Lengthened his life when all had left him
helpless, Dasras! and made him lord
of youthful maidens.
11. Worthy of praise and worth the winning,
Heroes is that your favouring succor
What time ye, knowing well his case,
delivered Vandana from the pit like
12. That Mighty deed of yours, for gain, O
Heroes, as thunder heraldeth the rain,
When, by the horse's head, Atharvan's
offspring Dadhyaac made known to you
the Soma's sweetness.
15. When in the time of night, in Khela's
battle, a leg was severed like a wild
Straight ye gave Vispala a leg of iron
that she might move what time the
16. His father robbed Rjrasva of his eye-
sight who for the she-wolf slew a
Ye gave him eyes, Nasatyas, Wonder-
Workers, Physicians, that he saw with
18. When to his house ye came, to Divodasa,
hasting to Bharadvaja, O ye Asvins,
The car that came with you brought
splendid riches: a porpoise and a bull
were yoked together.
Rig Veda Book 1, Hymn CXVII Asvins
3. Ye freed sage Atri, whom the Five Tribes
honoured, from the strait pit, ye Heroes
with his people...
12. Ye Sons of Heaven, ye Mighty, whither
went ye, sought ye, for his fair praise
the home of Kavya.
When, like a pitcher full of gold, O Asvins,
on the tenth day ye lifted up the
13. Ye with the aid of your great powers,
O Asvins, restored to youth the ancient
The Daughter of the Sun with all her
glory, O ye Nasatyas, chose your car
to bear her.
Rig Veda Book 1, Hymn CXVIII Asvins
2. Come to us with your chariot triple-seated
three-wheeled, of triple form, that rolleth
Fill full our cows, give mettle to our
horses, and make each hero son grow
strong, O Asvins.
3. With your well-rolling car, descending
swiftly, hear this the press-stone's song,
How then have ancient sages said, O
Asvins, that ye most swiftly come to stay
4. O Asvins, let your falcons bear you
hither, yoked to your chariot, swift,
with flying pinions...
Rig Veda Book 1, Hymn CXIX Asvins
9...Ye drew unto yourselves the spirit of Dadhyac,
and then the horse's head uttered
his words to you.
10. O horse did ye provide for Pedu, excellent,
white, O ye Asvins, conqueror of
Invincible in war by arrows, seeking heaven
worthy of fame, like Indra, vanquisher
With clipt grass refers to the sacred Kusa grass (Poa cynosuroides), after having the roots cut off, is spread on the Vedi or altar; and upon it the libation of Soma juice, or oblation of clarified butter is poured out. It is also spread over the sacrificial ground or floor to serve as a seat for the Gods and the sacrificers [Griffith's note]. The Asvins seem to have been a puzzle even to the oldest Indian Commentators. Yaska thus refers to them in the Nirukta, XII.1: 'Next in order are the deities whose sphere is the heaven; of these the Asvins are the first to arrive...Who then are those Asvins? 'Heaven and Earth," say some; 'Day and Night,' say others; 'The Sun and Moon,' say others; 'Two Kings, performers of holy acts,' say the legendary writers.' Professor Roth thus speaks of these Gods: 'The two Asvins, though, like the ancient interpreters of the Veda, we are by no means agreed as to the conception of their character, hold nevertheless, a perfectly distinct position in the entire body of the Vedic deities of light. They are the earliest bringers of light in the morning sky, who in their chariots hasten onward before the dawn, and prepare the way for her.' – J. Muir, O. S. Texts, V.234 [Griffith's note on Book 1 Hymn III]. What is apparent is that the Asvins are healers and saviors. They heal the lame, the blind; they rescue from the pit and they bring the dead to life. They are associated with a horse, and more particularly the decapitated head of a horse; and they are the heroes, conquerors of combatants.
(3) All quotes from the Avesta are from http://www.avesta.org/yasna/y0to8s.htm, beginning with the Yasna; the site is based on the translation of L. H. Mills (from Sacred Books of the East, American Edition, 1898; digital edition copyright © 1995 by Joseph H. Peterson.
(4) The Mabinogion, translated by Jeffrey Gantz, Penguin Classics, 1976. Branwen Daughter of Llyr, p. 76. The parenthetical quote is part of the story, and shows how the story-teller was passing on his parenthetical thought, how the proverb began.
(5) ibid, p. 79, 80. St. Paul's cathedral is the place where Bran's head reposes. It was a tradition, or requirement, of the Church to build over or beside sacred pagan sites. We aren't told why Bran's head should be facing France.
(6) The Age of Stonehenge, by Colin Burgess, J. M. Dent, Great Britain, 1980, p. 157.
(7) The Ancient Celts, Barry Cunliffe, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 185.
(8) Although abductions seemed the way of the ancients, and Helen's abduction is perhaps the most famous, it seems that a lot of the Indo-European myths surround that theme. The Celtic Bran, in The Mabinogion waded across the Irish sea to redeem his sister, Branwen, who was abducted after a fashion. And the wife of Rama, in The Ramayana, was abducted by the dragon. The fact is that among some pastoralist people of Asia it is still the custom. A recent PBS documentary showed how the entry into the modern age was creating problems. Whereas a young man might spy a girl he liked and with his cohorts ride in and snatch her away from her parents, abducting her to his parent's house, today the young men use taxis and hired cars and the abduction is (sic.) more dangerous.
(9) Herodotus, The Histories, points out that while the Egyptian pantheon resembles the Greek pantheon, the Dioscouri are the exception to the rule and are not worshipped by the Egyptians.
Herodotus, The Histories, Book 2.L. In fact, the names of nearly all the gods came to Hellas from Egypt. For I am convinced by inquiry that they have come from foreign parts, and I believe that they came chiefly from Egypt.  Except the names of Poseidon and the Dioscuri, as I have already said, and Hera, and Hestia, and Themis, and the Graces, and the Nereids, the names of all the gods have always existed in Egypt.
(10) The sacrifice of Iphigina reflects what appears to be an early Indo-European practice of human sacrifice to the gods. It this case it involves Agamemnon's daughter. The Celts were criticized by the Greeks and Romans for their part in human sacrifice (See http://www.digitalmedievalist.com/faqs/sacrific.html which gives a good account – including archeological information – on the Celtic practice. Finally, the worship of Ba'al involved human sacrifice (children), and in Carthage more than 20,000 cinerary urns containing ashes of children were found.
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